Introduction:
Memory, Race, and the Nation in Public Spaces
Lisa Maya Knauer and Daniel J. Walkowitz
the red-hot nationalist
movements that have marked
(and often scarred) the new millennium have mobilized pri-
mordialist, essentialized, and postcolonial understandings of
complicated racial and national identities to help them build
“modern” nation-states. Thus, postcolonial theory—notably,
the focus on the impact of imperialism in an era of decoloni-
zation—is one of the forces that shape the writing of national
narratives, especially in states with colonial legacies and neoco­
lonial presents. This is as true in former colonial powers as it is
in the countries they colonized. The pioneering work of cul-
tural theorists such as Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Edward
Said, and Antoinette Burton, among others, has shaped com-
pelling new analyses that interrogate the categories of race and
the nation, both as “imagined” or “invented” social construc-
tions and as subject positions.1
This “invention,” however, has taken on new political freight
since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the events of
September 11, and a regime of war and poverty in Africa and the
Middle East. Thus, Eastern European countries have rushed to
embrace nationalism at the same time that multiculturalism
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